It's indicative of the difficulty of removing ourselves from our contemporary context.
You will have noticed that there is no mention of Porter in the above.
18th century English must be treated as a foreign language.
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The main subdivision was on the colour of the malt used: Source: London And Country Brewer 1736, page 42, recommended quantites malt for 1 barrel (36 gallons) of beer Notes: Yield per bushel my estimate. Whilst ales had also adopted the use of hops, the quantity used was so much smaller as to make them readily distiguishable from heavily-hopped beers.
In general, beers were hopped at about 4 times the rate of the corresponding ale: Source: "London & Country Brewer", 1736, p.73: Notes: It's clear that the Pale Ale described here has little in Common with that of the 19th century.
Before the 1819 Weights and Measures Act when a standard barrel size was introduced, in London a barrel of beer was 36 gallons, but a barrel of ale only 32.
(Outside London both, ale and beer had been in barrels of 34 gallon until 1819.) As a modern person, accustomed to modern usage, I've found it surprisingly hard whilst writing this piece not to lapse into using the term beer generically.
Thirty years later, there were 6 breweries each pumping out more than 100,000 hl.annually.